This Independence Day locals can choose from an array of free celebratory events. Outdoors activities for all ages include fireworks displays, contests, games, cartoon sketch artists and even a special event for pets.

Oxford: A little bit of everything

The city of Oxford’s annual Freedom Festival, an all-day event July 4 at Oxford Lake Park, kicks off at 8 a.m. with the “Around the Lake Ramble” for senior citizens and concludes at 9 p.m. with a fireworks display.

A children’s parade, complete with patriotic costumes, begins at 9 a.m. followed by bicycle and tricycle races (any child wishing to participate must wear a helmet).

Other highlights include an antique car show and karate demonstrations at 10:30 a.m. Leashed pets are welcome to attend — don’t miss the pet show at 9:40 a.m. Carnival games and caricature art will start around 9:45 a.m. and run until noon. Activities will pick back up at 1 p.m. with swim races.

Remember to bring lawn chairs or blankets for outside seating. Space for tents is on a first-come, first-served basis; alcohol and grills are prohibited in the park area.

Jacksonville: For the early birds

Those looking to get a head start on celebrating can check out JaxFest2014 at the Jacksonville High School football stadium July 3. A number of carnival-style games lead up to the fireworks display at nightfall.

Recreation specialist Ed Canady said community organizations onhand will include vendors selling ice cream and slushies. Guests will be directed to free parking near the gymnasium, and participating vendors will receive special VIP parking passes.

Gates open at 5 p.m., and alcohol is strictly prohibited.

Though event plans are still being finalized, Canady added attendees should definitely dress for hot weather.

Heflin: Celebrating with a splash

Bring a bathing suit to Heflin’s annual “Salute to America” event July 4 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in McIntyre Park. Remember to carry a towel and flip-flops — before launching fireworks at 9 p.m., the city will feature a splash pad at the park’s tennis court.

As fire-truck hoses sprinkle water across the court, participants can compete in limbo, hula-hooping and sandcastle-building contests, and Heflin Taekwondo will present a martial arts demonstration.

​Staff Writer Taylor Manning: 256-235-3547. On Twitter @tmanning_Star.